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Senior Allison Warren talks about her teams's two-win over Sayre in the first round of the Class A PIAA playoffs. John Buffone

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NEFFSVILLE - Last year, Lebanon Catholic entered the PIAA Girls’ Class A tournament as the District 3 champs and lost 45-29 in the opening round. While seven of the eight returning players for coach Patti Hower were freshmen last year, it goes without saying that they wanted a different outcome this season.

Taking on the third seed from District 4, Sayre, at Manheim Twp., the Beavers erased that bitterness with a 44-42 win. They now advance to take on the winner of Tri-Valley/West Catholic Wednesday night at a site and time to be determined.

It wasn’t easy early on for the Beavers, who are used to jumping out to big early-game leads, but senior Allie Warren’s 21-point performance, which included a clutch buzzer-beating trey right before halftime.

Sayre’s Kaeli Sutryk gave her team the lead on a game-opening 3, but Lebanon Catholic never let the game get too far out of reach. The Beavers finally got their first lead at 10-9 on a trey from Warren with 2:04 to go in the first.

In the second quarter, Sayre opened the scoring again to retake the lead, but Catholic countered with back-to-back buckets from Neesha Pierre and Celine Mars.

Sayre next scored six straight to regain the lead with 3:37 to go in the half, before the Beavers went on a 10-3 run, capped by Warren's buzzer-beater, entering the break.

In the third quarter, Lebanon Catholic started to pull away from Sayre with another a 10-3 run that ended with yet another buzzer beater for the Beavers, this time from Mariah Sholly, who tallied nine points.

“That’s the difference in the game, especially the halftime one," Hower said of the buzzer-beaters. "And then Mariah hit the one at the end of the third and that was big.”

Sayre wouldn’t allow Lebanon Catholic to hold onto that 10-point lead, though, as they went on a 11-2 run to close to within a point at 41-40 with 3:02 left in the game. In the middle of the run, Lebanon Catholic could have folded, but Warren kept encouraging her team.

“I was telling the team to not to let up and not to give them anything easy,” she said.

Then she nailed her last 3 at 1:25 to go, but Sayre still refused to go away, cutting the lead to two with a minute remaining. With fouls to give, Sayre tried to get one last chance, as Neesha Pierre missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 2.5 seconds to go, but Lebanon Catholic got the rebound and punched their ticket to the second round.

After the game, Hower attributed her team’s success to their state experience last year.

“That one year of experience meant a lot ... and our composure down the stretch,” she said.

Going forward, Hower said that she told her team that the eastern bracket is wide open, but they aren’t looking too far ahead.

“It’s a five-game tournament. One down and now we’re going to work on the next one.”

For now, the young group of Beavers will enjoy their first state victory just a little bit for a while.

Lebanon Catholic 44, Sayre 42

Sayre (42)

Andrea Noldy 1 0-0 2, Kaeli Sutryk 5 0-0 15, Camry Lane 4 0-0 9, Molly Ball 3 1-4 7, Paige Wampole 4 1-2 0. Totals— 17 2-6 42.

Lebanon Catholic (44)

Mariah Sholly 3 0-0 9, Neesha Pierre 4 0-1 8, Allie Warren 6 4-4 21, Jayden Shellehamer 1 0-0 2, Celine Mars 2 0-0 4. Totals— 16 4-5 44.

Sayre _ 9 _ 11 _ 9 _ 13 _ — _ 42

Lebanon Catholic _ 10 _ 14 _ 15 _ 5 _ — _ 44

3-point goals— Say 6 (Sutryk 5, Lane), LC 8 (Warren 5, Sholly 3).

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